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April 4, 2001


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SPORTS
Doug Thurmond named state's top wrestling coach
In his first year at the helm, Jefferson head wrestling coach Doug Thurmond was named Georgia's best by his peers.
Thurmond, who had previously led the Johnson Knights' wrestling team before returning to his alma mater, was recently named Coach of the Year by the National Wrestling Coaches' Association, according to Dacula head coach and state NWCA representative Paul White.

3-1 Region 8-AAA start for Diamond Panthers
The Jackson County Panthers will face region opponents Stephens County, Madison County, Eastside and Hart County this week as they near the midway point of the 2001 region schedule.
The Panthers were to host Stephens County today, but the game has been rescheduled for Monday at 5:30 p.m. A twice-postponed game at Madison County will be played Thursday at 6 p.m.
Eastside hosts Jackson County Friday at 6 p.m., and Hart County comes to Jefferson Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.



Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Guest settles for $10,000, approval of original plat
Developer James Guest will get $10,000 and approval of his original plans for a development on Double Branch Road.
Guest settled a lawsuit with the Madison County commissioners in February and the details of the settlement were released Tuesday.
Guest filed the suit in 1999, claiming the commissioners violated Guest's due process and equal protection rights by illegally thwarting his plans for an 11-home development on 60 acres on Double Branch Road.

Sewage expansion in Danielsville?
Leaders discuss possibility but voice concerns over costs.
Danielsville leaders are looking at expanding sewer services into the southern section of the city.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
High-speed chase ends in Banks County
A response to a domestic dispute at Holiday Marina in Buford led to a high- speed car chase ending with a van crashing into an embankment on I-85 in Banks County last Wednesday.
Hall County deputies were called to Holiday Marina in Buford for a domestic dispute, according to Captain Ed Barfield of the Hall County Sheriff's Office.

County planners vote to deny rezoning for day care center.
Plans to bring a day care center to Banks County hit a roadblock last week. The Banks County Planning Commission recommended denial of the rezoning of 2.2 acres at the intersection of Highway 51 South and Welborn Road for the project when it met Wednesday, March 28.


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PASSES THROUGH
COUNTY ON CRUSADE

Howard Wooldridge of Texas passed through Jackson County last week as part of a crusade to legalize marijuana. He started his journey in Savannah and plans to end it near Portland, Ore., or Fort Worth, Texas. He said his trip, on horse, is to realize a dream and to bring attention to the issue. He travels approximately 23 miles each day and has five more months to go.


BOC may decide rezoning for NJ landfill April 16
Opponents pack room, call for denial of permit. North Jackson residents opposed to a proposed construction and demolition (C&D) landfill on Lanier Road packed the Jackson County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday night to speak against the project.
Earth Resources has requested a conditional use permit to locate the landfill on 94.84 acres on Lanier Road that is zoned I-2. The BOC will consider taking action on the request when it meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 16, in the Administrative Building in Jefferson.
This is the third time in recent years that the county government has dealt with controversial landfill proposals. In the mid-1990s, the county waged a contentious fight against a proposed landfill in Arcade. Last year, the county fought a proposed landfill in West Jackson, eventually denying developers a rezoning for the landfill site. A lawsuit has been filed in that matter and a hearing is scheduled for later this month.
In a surprising move Monday night, commissioner Emil Beshara recused himself from the matter and left the table for the one-hour discussion. The proposed landfill would be located in Beshara's district and the commissioner has been an outspoken critic of the plan.
Attorney Robert Lovett, representing Earth Resources, said the developer had purchased additional property so that the entrance would be on Brooks Road instead of Lanier Road. He also said that C&D landfills are needed in counties such as Jackson which have a high growth rate. C&D landfills take in construction waste form building sites.
"This county had 1,000 building permit applications last year," he said. "...This county grew at a rate of 38 to 40 percent in one decade. Anticipated growth will be at least that or more over the next decade."
The attorney also pointed out that the property is already zoned industrial and permitted uses would include an aircraft factory, chemical plant, distillery, feed mill and livestock processing yard. He added that the development is a $3.5 million project.
Lovett told the BOC that there are "generalized fears" about the landfill, but that state law says decisions can't be based on that. He said the applicant meets all legal requirements and has conducted numerous tests on the site, including soil and geology. He added that other landfills in the state have not experienced odor or other hazardous problems.
OPPOSITION
Jolee Blankenship responded to the remarks by saying that Earth Resources would probably resell the site.
"More than likely, Earth Resources won't be our neighbor if this project goes through, " she said. "Owner Sonny Dinsmore typically builds and develops landfills. He doesn't run them. He sells them, usually to Waste Management, the world's largest garbage collector. I assure you, no one on our street will be asking this 'good neighbor' for a cup of sugar or offer to help jump off a dump truck."
She also commented on remarks that Lovett made that there are no documented cases of contamination from C&D landfills in Georgia. She said that there are nine landfills on the state's hazardous site inventory list. Shelly Casper said that landfills and homes don't belong together.
"The Jackson County land use plan calls for our area to be mid-density residential," she said. "If you approve this permit, you have violated the plan. Approval of this plan also means you have violated county zoning codes since they require heavy industrial to be located on major streets. Brooks Road, Mountain Creek Church Road and Lanier Road are not major streets."
Art Blankenship, who said he has appraised residential real estate for 18 years, said the landfill would impact property values in the area.
"Site considerations and nuisances are an integral part of all appraisals," he said. "Excessive noise or hazards from heavy traffic, proximity to dumps, landfills and industrial sites are all conditions which would kill many conventional loans and all FHA insured loans. The reason for this is that these conditions constitute external obsolescence, or loss of value, resulting in detrimental impact to the marketability of properties. Marketing time for properties increase and time is money."
Jimmy Nash, who owns 200 acres adjacent to the site, said he is concerned that any runoff from the landfill would go into his creek. He added that he is also concerned about seeing a "mountain of trash" on the property.
Pendergrass Mayor Monk Tolbert said that the city doesn't approve of the request and that five acres of the property is within one-half mile of the city limits. He said state law requires that municipalities within that range be notified of any zoning changes.
"The city has not been asked for its approval of this landfill to be put on this property," he said. "If or when asked, we will not grant approval."
Tolbert went on to say that if this request is denied and goes to the court with the county being required to approve it, the county should try to get as much money as possible from the developers.
Tolbert also asked that a condition be put on Earth Resources that they must reimburse all land owners for any financial losses they may incur due to the landfill.
ATTORNEY RESPONDS
Lovett responded to many of the concerns aired by residents, including that there would be odors. He said that construction and demolition landfills do not have odors. He also said that some of the photographs submitted by the citizens are of municipal solid waste landfills and not construction and demolition landfills.
As for the nine landfills on the hazardous site list, the attorney said that they were shut down for non-compliance and many were opened before current regulations were in place and were grandfathered in.
He also answered questions from the commissioners on the operation, which he said would be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and half a day on Saturdays. He said the capacity would be four million tons of trash and it would be filled over a 15-year period.


City School Board Prepared To Name
New Second-In-Command On Monday
The Commerce Board of Education expects to name a new second-in-command at its regular meeting Monday night.
The board will meet at 7:00 in the Commerce High School Media Center, where it is expected to vote on a recommendation from Superinten-dent Larry White on someone to fill the role of assistant superintendent.
The board will hold a called and closed-to-the-public meeting Sunday afternoon at 2:00 to meet with three final applicants for the position, said superintendent Larry White.
That meeting will be held in the conference room at BJC Medical Center and will be in lieu of the regularly scheduled work session, which would have been this Thursday, but which was canceled because of spring break.
According to White, 35 people submitted either résumés or applications for the job, which will pay between $70,000 and $80,000, depending on the education level of the person chosen.
"I have chosen (from the applicants) the people I want to interview, and I have chosen the top three candidates," said White. "I want the board to meet them and to be able to ask them questions."
White will make the recommendation on the finalist to the board, which is expected to vote on that recommendation Monday night.
The position became vacant last month when the board moved longtime assistant superintendent Dr. Dennis McWilliams to the position of lead teacher and director for an alternative school to be housed at CHS in cooperation with the Jefferson and Banks County school systems. McWilliams will retain his salary, said by White to be in the "upper 70s."
The position was advertised on the Department of Education's Internet site, and notices were sent to the local Regional Educational Services Agency (RESA) and to all area school systems, according to White.
Also on the agenda for Monday night's meeting are approval of the 2002 salary increases (4.5 percent), the local teacher supplement schedule, the administrative salary schedule, an update on the CHS renovation project and approval of personnel for the upcoming school year.


Proposed steel plant in Center draws opposition
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will take action at its April 16 meeting on a request from a developer to locate a steel processing plant in Center. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Administrative Building in Jefferson.
Tim Brooks and Randall Kersey have requested that the 30 acres be rezoned from A-2 (agricultural rural farm district) to I-2 (heavy industrial district) with a conditional use permit.
The rezoning would clear the way for H.P. Steel to construct a 50,000-square-foot building between the new Hwy. 441 route and the Norfolk-Southern Railway. Eventually, the company plans to expand the building to 150,000 square feet. The company would ship in coils of steel in covered rail cars from mills in the north and cut the steel to specifications for customers in the automotive, building and home appliance and electronics industries.
Realtor Kim Beauchamp spoke on the company's plans and said the industry would have no air emissions and would be a "clean, non-polluting" business. She said the main reason the company wanted the Center location is the railroad frontage.
A number of nearby residents urged the BOC to reject the rezoning, which had been recommended for approval by the planning commission.
Robert Farmer, who lives on Ed Bennett Road in Center, presented a petition with the signatures of more than 450 people who are in opposition to the rezoning. He said the county land use plan does not call for this area to be zoned as industrial. He said it calls for industrial developments to be located along I-85 or major thoroughfares.
"This is a clear case of spot zoning," he said. "It is a mile and half to two miles from this site before any industrial use zoning. It would be very inappropriate to zone an industrial area in the center of an agricultural, residential area."
Angeline Scarborough, Center, said she is concerned that approval of the rezoning would open up the area as an industrial corridor.
Bob Herrin, Center, reminded the BOC of problems another industry brought to the area and said another industry is not needed.
"About 15 years ago, another industry came to our community promising that they were going to be quiet and be good neighbors," he said. "...Louisiana Pacific proved to be just the opposite and it took the federal government and one of the largest fines in history to help them clean up...It took several of us in the neighborhood taking them to federal court...We don't need another industry in that area."
Several other residents near the site also spoke out against it, citing the likelihood that its approval would make it easier for other industries to be located in the area and expressing concerns over traffic safety on Hwy. 441.
The planning commission earlier recommended approval of the request with the following conditions: there be no outside storage, that all loading and unloading be done inside, that a buffer plan be created and that the Department of Transportation approve all entrances and exits and Norfolk-Southern approve all grade crossings affecting the plant.



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As Expected, Nicholson Council
Votes Down Zoning Ordinance
NICHOLSON -- In the end, there was no impassioned debate, no public outcry. The issue of zoning went quietly, without so much as a comment from its proponents or opponents in a 3-2 vote that included the expected tie-breaker from Mayor Ronnie Maxwell.
It took council woman Margaret Ward longer to read her motion to approve the town's zoning ordinance than it did for the council to consider and reject the motion in a rare roll-call vote.
Ward's motion traced the history of the push toward zoning back to May 4, 1999, and followed it through more than a year of discussions, culminating in the motion "to protect the integrity of development in the city and to provide for orderly growth."
Maxwell asked for comments; there were none.
Councilman Thomas Gary seconded the motion, after which Maxwell called for a roll-call vote. Gary, then Ward supported the motion. Newly installed councilmen Chuck Wheeler and Billy Kitchens opposed it.
"The vote is tied," Maxwell observed. "The chair votes no. Motion denied."
That was the only significant development in a 14-minute meeting that followed the installation by Magistrate Judge Billy Chandler of Kitchens and Wheeler, winners of seats on the council in the March 20 special election.
Thirteen citizens witnessed the events.
In other business, the council authorized Maxwell to visit the state surplus depot in Atlanta to look for office furniture, for which he may spend up to $2,000, approved a bid from Puckett's Doors to replace for $806 the overhead door on the city shop and named Maxwell and Wheeler to a committee to meet with the Nicholson Water Association over the handling of invoices for payment with special purpose local option sales tax funds.


County readopts '86 zoning ordinance
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners readopted its zoning ordinance and tax maps Monday night. The move was apparently related to a pending lawsuit over the county's zoning codes, which were adopted in 1986.
County attorney Daniel Haygood said the action includes several amendments, including penalties for those in violation of the ordinance and cleaning up several "typos" in the document. The action is effective immediately and it repeals any other county ordinances in conflict with the new document. The BOC interrupted the work session to have a "public hearing" on the issue, but no one in the audience commented on it. No further explanation was given at Monday's meeting and Haygood said Tuesday that he can't comment further on the action due to litigation.
The county has been sued by a firm seeking a rezoning to locate a landfill in the West Jackson area. A court hearing has been set for April 27.
in Jackson County Superior Court on the rezoning issue.


Maysville says 'No' to name on Banks County flag
The Maysville City Council voted unanimously Monday night to request the city's name be taken off the county flag proposed by the Banks County Board of Commissioners.
City attorney Gary Freeman suggested the council take steps to protect the city from possible conflicts.
"If any of you have been reading The Banks County News, you know that Banks County has gotten itself in the middle of a controversy over the flag," said Freeman.
He told the council the proposed flag has six stars with the name of each city below it.
"I don't believe any of the cities have been consulted on this," he said.
Since some had not seen the flag, a copy of The Banks County News with a picture of the flag was presented to the council to review.
Freeman said, "Homer's been concerned enough about boycotts and demonstrations that they have asked me to prepare a demonstration/parade ordinance," he said.
He said that the Homer council is thinking about having its name removed as well and that the issue would be up for vote at its next meeting.
"The question is, does the city of Maysville want its name on that flag?" he asked.
He also asked whether or not the council wanted him to prepare a demonstration ordinance as well, "in case we have problems."
Councilman Scott Harper said more of Maysville's residents live in Jackson County and saw no reason to get involved.
Council member Andrew Strickland reminded Harper and the council that the majority of the registered voters reside in Banks County.
Strickland said, "I'd leave it off." He made the motion to leave Maysville's name off the flag and Marion Jarrett seconded it. The vote was unanimous.
Mayor Richard Presley said, "The city of Maysville wishes not to participate or have the town's name on the county flag."
Freeman agreed to draft the letter to the BOC and present it to the council for signing.


BOE reviews site plan for East Jackson Elementary
A proposed site plan for the East Jackson Elementary School was unofficially presented at last week's called meeting of the Jackson County Board of Education.
The proposal also includes long-term plans for an East Jackson High School, as well as a number of athletic fields. The developments will be located at the corner of Water Works Road and Hoods Mill Road, near East Jackson Middle School.
Officials said the plan was not yet ready for an official recommendation. Superinten-dent Andy Byers indicated the elementary school might be in operation by 2003.
Board members also considered a request by several South Jackson Elementary parents to allow all students from South Jackson the option of attending either East or West Jackson Middle Schools. Byers indicated that the larger student body at West Jackson (approximately 700, compared to East Jackson's 600) might make the request feasible. No action was taken during the called meeting.
The board also approved contracts for the 2002-03 school year .
For related stories, see this weeks Jackson Herald.